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Amazing Spider-Man #31

Review by Paul Bowler

Spider-Man faces the fight of his life in Amazing Spider-Man #31 as the Superior Octopus, under orders from Captain America and backed by Hydra, returns to reclaim the company Otto Octavius believes is rightfully his. Spider-Man mustered a squad of Spider-Mobiles to make a final stand at the Shanghai branch of Parker Industries, but the Superior Ock managed to override their systems and turned the Spider-Mobiles against Spider-Man!

Dan Slott continues to keep the curve balls coming thick and fast with this issues Secret Empire tie-in. Otto may have built what became Parker Industries way back when he was the Superior Spider-Man, but Peter isn’t going to give up that easily, even though the New York, London, and San Francisco offices of his company have fallen and Otto has programmed Spider-Man’s fleet of Spider-Mobiles to attack him. As you’d expect, the web-spinning action comes at a fast, furious, and ingeniously staged pace by Slott as Spidey and his allies rally themselves against Superior Ock’s underhand scheme to wrest back control and prevent him from getting his grubby Hydra funded tentacles on everything stored inside the Parker Industries mainframe.

Yes, I know I said I wasn’t bothering with ANY big comic book events or tie-in issues this year, but as I read Amazing Spider-Man regularly anyway there’s no avoiding this Secret Empire thing for me with this one really. To be honest, I had been considering dropping this title from my pull-list. Recent storylines hadn’t exactly rocked my boat, and the thought of these Secret Empire tie-in issues didn’t garner much enthusiasm from me either. I have to eat my words a bit though, as this issue has certainly rekindled my interests in all things Spider-Man again.

The fact you don’t need to have bothered with Secret Empire or cared one jot about it, was a big plus in my book. Few tie-in’s mange this, and for that I must applaud Dan Slott’s superior scripting of this issue. Otto’s journey from Superior Spider-Man, to disembodied consciousness inside a robot, and eventual rebirth as the Superior Octopus comes full circle with Amazing Spider-Man #31, it also rounds off one of the most compellingly innovative Spider-Man storylines in years, and in many ways Otto’s arc has at times proved more compelling in some ways than Peter’s own resurrection and ongoing success story with Parker Industries.

The pedal to the metal – or perhaps that should that be to side of the building – action is all stylishly brought to life by Stuart Immonen’s impeccably detailed artwork, the inks by Wade von Grawbader complement Immonen’s work perfectly, and together with colorist Marte Gracia this issue of Amazing Spider-Man looks every bit as rich and vibrant as the exciting plot threads Dan Slott has effortlessly spun into a web of high-drama and adventure. From the vertigo inducing clash with the Spider-Mobiles, to the interludes with Aunt May observing events from street level, right up to Peter’s final solution to repel Otto’s hostile takeover, and Spider-Man‘s battle with the Superior Octopus this issue is a dazzling example of a creative team pulling out all the stops to realize the epic scope, scale and implications of the fallout these events will ultimately have on Peter’s life.

Peter Parker has essentially been an everyman’s Tony Stark for a while now, which has been all well and good, but that concept quickly began to feel a bit of a wrong fit for the character. The battle between Spidey and the Superior Ock is the big highlight of the issue, and in many respects – even though the odds are impossibly stacked against him – it almost feels like Peter has finally managed to double down on that old Parker luck of his and come up trumps for once.

It didn’t make me want to check out Secret Empire, but I love how Amazing Spider-Man #31 effectively frees Peter of all that corporate paraphernalia and puts him back in the traditional red and the blue so to speak – stunning cover by Alex Ross this issue as well! I’ve also enjoyed the recent developments between Spidey and Mockingbird in this series, Peter and Bobbi are so good together – lets hope it lasts. Dan Slott is onto a sure fire winner here, the resolution of this issue and no doubt Marvel’s impending Legacy thingymajig is a great opportunity to really get back to the core essence of what makes the friendly neighbourhood Spider-Man such a wonderful character. Fingers crossed it gets our Spider-Senses tingling in all the right ways again!

Publisher: Marvel

Writer: Dan Slott / Penciler: Stuart Immonen

Inks: Wade von Grawbadger / Colourist: Marte Gracia

Letters: VC’s Joe Caramanga / Cover: Alex Ross